Orioles claim Araúz and DFA Lowther (plus lineup)

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TORONTO – The Orioles claimed infielder Jonathan Araúz off waivers from the Red Sox this afternoon and designated left-hander Zac Lowther for assignment. The 40-man roster remains full.

Araúz, 23, will report to Triple-A Norfolk. He went 0-for-10 in six games this season and is 30-for-147 (.204) with five doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 59 games with the Red Sox over parts of three seasons.

Araúz plays shortstop, second base and third base. He’s a career .240/.315/.357 hitter in 498 minor league games and provides infield depth, versatility and experience at the upper level of the farm system.

The native of Panama signed with the Phillies as a free agent in 2014 and was traded to the Astros a year later in a seven-player deal that included Ken Giles, Mark Appel and future Orioles pitcher Thomas Eshelman. The Red Sox selected him in the 2019 Rule 5 draft.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias knows Araúz from their days in the Astros organization.

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Garcia glad to make it back to majors

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TORONTO – Rico Garcia understood how much the numbers really mattered. A non-roster pitcher who missed a full year recovering from elbow surgery must get noticed for more than just returning to the mound. He has to push hard for the promotion.

The circumstances also worked in Garcia’s favor as he made it back to the majors Monday with the Orioles.

Keegan Akin didn’t join the team for the second portion of the road trip due to Canada’s restrictions on unvaccinated players. The rules allowed the Orioles to call up Garcia and, if they chose, send him back down without using an option or having to designate him for assignment in a 40-man move.

Garcia signed a minor league deal in November, posted a 1.93 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings for three affiliates and joined the taxi squad in Kansas City. The Orioles learned that he wasn’t just healthy again.

“Just going out there and attacking hitters, trying not to think about the elbow and the whole rehab process,” he said. “Just trust the process, trust the surgery, that everything in there is feeling good, and let things rip, just like before the surgery happened. That was the main focus.”

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Mancini out with hand injury

Mancini out with hand injury

TORONTO – Trey Mancini walked into the visiting clubhouse this afternoon with his right hand wrapped in black tape. His name missing from the lineup. His mind uncertain when he'd get back on the field.

Mancini was hit in the sixth inning last night by a 91 mph sinker from Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah. He reached first base on a slow roller up the third base line, and a lengthy challenge led to the ruling that he struck out swinging.

Richie Martin pinch-hit for Mancini in the seventh.

X-rays didn’t reveal a fracture in the hand, but Mancini isn’t available to play tonight and might not be able to leave a short bench Wednesday.

“It’s swollen. Not great, but luckily no fracture, so I say day-to-day, but it’s pretty swollen,” Mancini said. “Once the swelling goes down it should be good again to grip the bat again and go, but I’m not exactly sure.

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Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

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TORONTO – Kyle Stowers is on the bench after making his major league debut last night and lining a run-scoring double into left field in the seventh inning.

Ryan McKenna is starting in left field as the Orioles continue their series against the Blue Jays. Adley Rutschman is batting cleanup and serving as the designated hitter.

Trey Mancini, who was hit on the hand last night, isn't in the lineup.

Tyler Nevin is the third baseman again. Richie Martin is starting at second base.

Jordan Lyles hasn’t gone past five innings in his last three starts. He has a lifetime 7.79 ERA and 2.077 WHIP in four games against the Blue Jays spanning 17 1/3 innings.

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More from last night's loss in Toronto

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TORONTO – A few of the firsts are out of the way for Kyle Stowers.

The first hit, first double, first RBI, first hit by pitch.

The first time that his family was brought to tears in a major league game.

Stowers lined a Julian Merryweather fastball, clocked at 95.7 mph, into left-center field for a double that scored Adley Rutschman in the seventh inning of an 11-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

Merryweather left the game with an injury, one of many odd moments of the night. Like the challenge in the sixth inning that lasted longer than batting practice and resulted in the Orioles getting the call overturned, and Trey Mancini walking from first base to the dugout after striking out.

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More on Stowers and Garcia joining Orioles

More on Stowers and Garcia joining Orioles

TORONTO - The Orioles knew for a while that outfielder Anthony Santander and reliever Keegan Akin would leave the active roster prior to the team’s arrival in Toronto. To be decided was which outfielder might replace Santander in the lineup.

Kyle Stowers became the third top-10 prospect in the system to get the call, joining catcher Adley Rutschman and pitcher Kyle Bradish. They’ll be on the field together tonight for the start of a four-game series against the Blue Jays.

Manager Brandon Hyde got an extended look at Stowers in spring training and wants to check how the 2019 second-round draft pick handles the pressure and challenging at-bats against early Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah.

“I know he’s excited,” Hyde said. “It’s cool to watch young guys make their debuts, and this is going to be a great environment. He’s facing one of the best right-handed starters in the game right now. He’s swinging the bat extremely well in Norfolk and love the athleticism, how he plays defense, how he runs, so it’s a cool way for him to break into the big leagues and looking forward to watching him play tonight.”

The advice to just relax and treat it like any other game “is super unrealistic,” Hyde said.

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Stowers and Garcia replace Santander and Akin on Orioles roster

Stowers and Garcia replace Santander and Akin on Orioles roster

TORONTO - The Orioles placed outfielder Anthony Santander and reliever Keegan Akin on the restricted list today and selected the contracts of Kyle Stowers and Rico Garcia as replacement players.

No reasons were stated for Santander and Akin being away from the club, but unvaccinated players aren’t allowed to enter Canada. Santander and Akin were put on the COVID-19 injured list last summer.

Stowers, the No. 7 prospect in the system per Baseball America and No. 8 per MLBPipeline.com, is batting .253/.356/.545 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 209 plate appearances with Triple-A Norfolk. He’s making his major league debut tonight, playing left field and batting eighth.

“It’s awesome, it’s a dream come true for sure, and everyone’s been super great,” said Stowers, who called his fiancée and parents with the news.

“It was special, just because they played such a big role, obviously,” he said. “To be able to thank the people who helped me get here was really special.”

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Orioles head to Toronto with more roster moves expected

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The Orioles completed their only trip to Kansas City yesterday and are in Toronto for the first of three visits.

This is my first appearance since the 2016 wild card game.

Too soon?

My lasting image from that day besides Zack Britton warming in the bullpen and sitting down, and my frantic attempts late at night to get a flight home, is catcher Matt Wieters bolting out of his crouch the moment that Edwin Encarnación’s bat made contact against Ubaldo Jimenez in the 11th inning.

Wieters spun toward the dugout as if unable to watch. Or maybe he sensed the outcome in advance and hated to be proven right. Probably both.

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Orioles and Royals lineups (updated)

martin dugout fives gray LARGE

The Orioles are trying to gain a split of their four-game series in Kansas City today with Dean Kremer making his second start since leaving the injured list.

Kremer faced the Guardians last Sunday and allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. An off-day and rainout pushed him back in the rotation.

Today marks Kremer’s first career start against the Royals.

Adley Rutschman is catching today after the first three-hit game of his career yesterday afternoon. Rutschman is 5-for-11 in his last three starts.

"It kind of goes back to controlling the controllables," Rutschman told the media. "You hit balls hard and eventually, baseball's one of those games, you’re going to hit balls right at people, then you’re going to have balls that are hit hard that fall for hits. So, you’ve got to continue to roll with the punches and try to do the best you can.”

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Kjerstad shares emotions from playing in his first game

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Heston Kjerstad was making his second visit to Maryland after flying in from the spring training complex in Sarasota to begin working out with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. Taking his rounds of batting practice and waiting for the Orioles to activate him. In an unfamiliar setting that just seemed right to him.

He noticed it again as he walked to home plate Friday night in his first professional game.

Right where he belonged. Nothing else about it mattered.

“Honestly, just felt alive again being in the box. Just playing some baseball,” he said the following day after going 1-for-4 with an RBI.

“It kind of all comes back to you. You get locked in again for hitting. I felt at home again being able to dig in the box and have my approach, and just take some at-bats.”

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Martin replaces Urías on Orioles roster (plus lineups and notes)

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Infielder Ramón Urías was scratched from last night’s lineup with discomfort in his left side and is going on the 10-day injured list today with an oblique strain. The move is retroactive to yesterday.

Richie Martin had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk and is in Kansas City, where he’s starting at second base and batting ninth. He was slashing .295/.382/.442 with 13 doubles, four triples, one home run, 14 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts over 41 games.

Martin was on the taxi squad for the trip to St. Louis. He hasn’t played for the Orioles since Oct. 3 in Toronto.

The Orioles selected Martin’s contract today, and he fills the open spot on the 40-man roster.

Urías appeared in 49 games and batted .225/.273/.387 with 10 doubles and six home runs in 188 plate appearances. He played 38 games at third base, seven at second base and four at shortstop.

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This, that and the other

Grayson

Grayson Rodriguez’s year might be over after only 56 innings pitched at Triple-A Norfolk. That’s one of the decisions looming over the Orioles this summer.

They also will hold internal meetings later to figure out whether Rodriguez is a candidate to go to the Arizona Fall League.

They haven’t ruled out the idea.

The Orioles first need to establish a real timeline for his recovery from a Grade 2 strain of his right lat muscle, and that can’t be done so soon after his diagnosis.

Rodriguez is aiming to make his major league debut in September. It’s a big carrot to dangle in front of himself. He’s holding the string.

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Kjerstad: "It's been a journey to get to this moment"

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Heston Kjerstad’s positive attitude is reflected in the way he’s handled the extreme delay in reaching his first professional game. How he used the term “a little bump” today to describe the reasons why it took until now to join an Orioles minor league affiliate.

With at-bats that finally count.

In front of crowds who don't just pass through the gates for free on a sunny day in Sarasota to watch practices.

A diagnosis of myocarditis shortly after the 2020 draft, where the Orioles picked Kjerstad second overall, prevented him from participating in the fall instructional camp. It kept him out of spring training after a setback. And when he finally was cleared this year to participate in a minicamp and in intrasquad competition two months later, he strained his left hamstring chasing a line drive in the outfield.

The weeks of rehabbing led to light workouts and hitting off tees and coach’s tosses, to facing live pitching, to building at-bats in extended spring training, to reporting to Single-A Delmarva this week.

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Kjerstad playing in Delmarva, Orioles and Royals lineups

Kjerstad playing in Delmarva, Orioles and Royals lineups

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the second-overall draft pick in 2020, finally is able to make his professional debut tonight at Single-A Delmarva – exactly two years after his selection from the University of Arkansas. He’s batting third and serving as the designated hitter.

Kjerstad, 23, was diagnosed with myocarditis after the draft and strained his left hamstring while chasing a line drive from Adley Rutschman in a March 11 intrasquad game in Sarasota. He’s been playing at extended spring training.

The initial prognosis had Kjerstad missing eight to 12 weeks.

The Orioles decided to let Kjerstad - the No. 9 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipleline.com - skip the Florida Complex League, but he’s on a return-to-play progression with the Shorebirds. He’ll be removed from games in the middle innings per hamstring rehab protocol and standard practices.

Meanwhile, pitcher Cody Sedlock cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, so he stays in the organization.

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Because You Asked - First Contact

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The Orioles have three more games to play in Kansas City before heading to Toronto. I was supposed to be on the current trip, but was switched to Rogers Centre. My first visit since the 2016 wild card game.

More on that later.

The mailbag is allowed in Canada, but I’ll leave it home. Much lighter than its current condition.

Welcome to the latest sequel to the original. You send along questions, I try to answer them, many of you ignore me and rephrase them.

The editing remains minimal. Please don’t contact a lawyer if I remove a word without first issuing a disclaimer about length, style, clarity and brevity.

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Orioles and Royals lineups (and notes)

Robinson Chirinos swing gray

The Orioles begin a four-game series in Kansas City tonight with Jordan Lyles on the mound after last night’s rainout adjusted his turn.

Lyles has a 4.50 ERA and 1.484 WHIP in 11 starts. He faced the Royals in Game 1 of a May 8 doubleheader and allowed two earned runs (four total) in a season-high 7 1/3 innings.

Tonight’s game won’t provide a matchup of sorts between the top two draft picks in 2019 - Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. A nice sidebar that’s put on hold until Friday.

Robinson Chirinos is behind the plate tonight. Rutschman is going to catch at least two games in the series and likely serve as designated hitter in another. He’s probably going to catch in three of the four games in Toronto, including Monday’s opener.

Rutschman already was going to sit tonight, and the postponement didn’t change the lineup pattern established days ago. Manager Brandon Hyde is easing him into the major league workload after the No. 1 prospect strained his right triceps at the spring training complex.

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Leftovers for breakfast

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The creative maneuvering that Orioles manager Brandon Hyde must execute to provide rest to players, sometimes on a rotating basis, also could be necessary late in games with personnel on the field.

Last night’s lineup left the bench without a true utility player. Tyler Nevin plays the corner infield and outfield positions. Ryan McKenna plays all three outfield spots. Robinson Chirinos is the catching alternative to Adley Rutschman.

Chris Owings didn’t hit and he was an easy target for fans on social media, which didn’t go unnoticed by some members of the organization. But he could back up everywhere on the field.

If Hyde needs to replace shortstop Jorge Mateo, he can move Ramón Urías off third base and insert Nevin. Urías is the shortstop if Mateo is rested.

Pretty simple as long as Mateo and Urías don’t slip into day-to-day status with an injury, which they’ve done this season. If that happens, the bench is going to expand again with a phone call to Triple-A Norfolk.

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Notes on Watkins, Voth, vaccinations, Owings, Rutschman and more (game postponed)

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The Orioles are optioning pitcher Spenser Watkins to Triple-A Norfolk after removing him from the injured list.

Watkins has been throwing in the bullpen with no discomfort in his right elbow. The club wants him to make some starts in the minors before perhaps returning him to the active roster.

Bruce Zimmermann, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish are starting in the four-game series in Kansas City that begins Thursday night. The Royals are starting Kris Bubic, Jonathan Heasley, Daniel Lynch and Brad Keller.

The Orioles begin a four-game series in Toronto on Monday and unvaccinated players are forbidden from entering Canada, which shifts a lot of attention to roster moves made by the club.

Manager Brandon Hyde said it’s “possible” the Orioles put some players on the restricted list because of their vaccination status.

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Orioles designate Owings for assignment (plus lineup)

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Pitcher Austin Voth has joined the Orioles and is headed to the bullpen.

Voth was claimed off waivers yesterday from the Nationals.

The Orioles designated infielder Chris Owings for assignment to make room for Voth, who’s wearing No. 51.

Owings was 6-for-56 with two doubles, 10 walks and 24 strikeouts in 26 games. He signed a minor league deal on March 15 and served in a super-utility role.

Owings was activated from the bereavement list yesterday.

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Mancini: "I wanted to at least be a big part of the tide turning"

GettyImages-1401631677 Trey Mancini White Jersey

Baseball’s trade deadline is pushed back a few days this summer to Aug. 2, maybe providing a little more time for Trey Mancini to field questions about his status on the market, the likelihood that he’s moved, how much he hopes to stay.

Stuff he can recite in his sleep because he’s had so much practice with it.

This is an annual event in Baltimore. The Preakness Stakes feel small by comparison.

The Orioles included a $10 million mutual option in Mancini’s contract with a $250,000 buyout that could keep them together in 2023, but it’s rare that the sides agree. And Mancini made it clear after signing his new deal that his status isn’t really impacted. He just as easily could be traded. Embedding the option isn’t equivalent to planting roots.

Mancini actually could be more enticing to some clubs that may not view him immediately as a summer rental. There’s at least a possibility of keeping him an extra year.

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